Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Bees' Knees:Oh Honey!

So my next adventure as a new-found ,part-time homesteader is all about those hardworking Anthrophilias,also known as the Honey Bee!

Ok, so we all know how I felt about eating fresh farm chicken eggs (Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?Don't know,don't care.Just give me your Eggs!) How do you suppose I felt when Dear Ol' Hubby first brought up raising a hive of Honey Bees? I FREAKED! How could he stand the thought of putting us in harm's way of those pesky,angry,ready to sting anything that comes their way critters?
cartoon bee : Angry bee cartoon Illustration

Well of course he'd done this whole " Dances with Honey Bees" routine before.But that was before me.This was whole new territory. And the territory he had previously was more than a half-acre. It was actually a friend's land. He wanted us to be neighbors with the enemy.

Flash forward two years later and we now have a hive,so graciously given to us by a friend we go to church with. Let me say this; my husband did not push this one down my throat.(Ow!That would hurt!) He weighed the options, and educated me on all the benefits of having these little guys (and gals!) around.

Honey Bees are misunderstood.True to the phrase, "Busy as a bee.", these amazing insects live up to the reputation. First off Gregg told me that they will travel for miles to go after pollen.And when they return,they can communicate where the good stuff is to other worker bees! I especially loved watching YouTube videos where the bees place the pollen in little sacks on their legs.Very cool!They have guards watching over the hive,as well as the nursery having a full staff of nannies to tend to future workers and queens.

I have seen how they are diligent.I have stood near their hive and not been afraid. They really aren't concerned with me as long as I don't go poking around. I want them to learn my scent so that they become comfortable with the giant in their area.Gregg has also taught me that as long as the Queen is safe they're pretty docile.We have the Italian Honey Bees,and these are pretty laid back.

It's fascinating to watch these creatures and realize what a key role they play in our environment.Without these guys life would kinda stink. According to the National Resources Defense Council, more than $15 billion worth of crops are pollinated by bees each year in the United States alone.Whoa! These babies are the real deal. And truly, I don't wanna go without foods such as apples, almonds, blueberries, avocados, onions, grapefruit, oranges...well you get the picture.

Now for the best part.The part that Winnie the Pooh dreams of.Yes, the liquid gold of nature. I can't wait til our girls start putting out the Honey!And the beeswax too. I have much to learn about the many uses of it.
Back to the honey. According to people who harvest it, it's not just good for eating. It's also supposedly good for seasonal allergies.The Mayo Clinic is not completely agreeing with that,however they're not disregarding  it either.You can check it out yourself at www.mayoclinic.org/diseases/honey-for-allergies. They do say that the idea isn't far-fetched since honey is used as a cough suppressant and could act as an anti-inflammatory. They also point out that honey contains flower pollen which is commonly used against allergens. I'm no expert, but I'm willing to give it a try. And ladies there are recipes you can find online that are great for the skin. A friend of mine made one,It was awesome!

Another thing to consider is what type of box you want. There are three common types.The Langstroth, the Warre, and the Top Bar. We are as of right now using the former due to the fact when we got the bees they were already placed in it and Gregg didn't want to disturb them. With the Langstroth, you will get more honey with it than a top bar, but less beeswax. Some experts claim the Top Bar is more like their natural habitat which keeps the bees calmer. It really depends on your preference. Next year we will probably try out the Top Bar since we have it.

It's still awhile off until we get our first batch of honey and for all of you newbies out there like me who were cynical and scared, just know that I'm sold out on Honey Bees and I have a new found respect for them and their place in this world. I plan to do a follow up on the harvesting of our first batch of honey. Wish me luck!

Embracing the many adventures of Homesteading.
The Un-Country Country Wife.


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